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which the Word of God pours forth in such abundant streams to the penitent believer.
To make this portion of the Service as effective as it ought to be, the whole congregation should join.
The duty of praising God in “hymns and psalms and spiritual songs" will not be the less worthily performed from the congregation having a Selection of Psalms more in conformity with the style of modern composition, than those, which were for many years retained in the Church.
The refinements of poetry are unnecessary in psalms to be used in churches,--but as we are taught to sing, not only with the spirit, but with the understanding also, the composition is not a matter of total indifference.-The Selection should, at least, be free from negligence and coarseness, otherwise the effect, which ought to be produced, will probably be wanting, and criticism may be excited in the place of humility and gratification.
The early Version of Sternhold and Hopkins has fallen into almost universal disuse, and this animating service has been rescued from the exclusive claims of a few voices, and now swells, in general chorus, from every part of the Church.
The Version, which succeeded that of Sternhold; was very superior to its predecessor, and contains many psalms written with simplicity, perspicuity, and ease ; but it is very unequal in its execution, and, by adhering too closely to the letter of the text, has, in very many instances, lost its force and spirit.
The Version, which has been hitherto used in our Parish Church, being out of print, it was suggested by several of the inhabitants, that a New Selection would be desirable,-and, with the sanction of the Vicar, the task was ndertaken.
No pains have been spared in the research for those psalms, which were, in my opinion, most calculated to form a standard Collection, likely to be approved by the parishioners.There were as many things to be avoided, as to be sought for, in the undertaking.
A prejudice exists, amongst many very wellmeaning persons, against introducing Hymns into this portion of the Church Service; they would restrict the Selection to Psalms only. I am not ignorant of the general distinction made between Psalms and Hymns; but it is a distinction so arbitrary in its nature, and so unsanctioned by authority, that I have had no hesitation in rejecting it.
In the common acceptation of the terms, they may be, and are, used indifferently; and so long as the compositions keep the mean between coldness and enthusiasm, and are founded upon the doctrines of the Scriptures, the pious Christian need not be startled by a name, from joining in the praise of his
Creator.--But as no man shall put a stumbling block or occasion to fall in his brother's way," so I have avoided this distinction of terms, and, except in the instance of the Morning and Evening Hymn, have made use only of the general denomination-Psalms.
If a sanction be required for a Christian congregation adopting Hymns, I would call to memory the example of our Saviour and his disciples : “And when they had sung a Hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
The whole of the Psalms, which compose the present Selection, are taken from writers of intelligence and piety.--The names of Ad. dison, Pitt, Johnson, Bowdler, might be prefixed to many of them, to vindicate their claim to estimation. As this work, however, is not for the critic, but for the Christian worshipper, the authors have not been distinguished. The Psalms are divided into parts, in such a manner, as that each portion shall form a complete Psalm; thus preserving the sense perfect at the conclusion of the proper lengths for singing.
If any profits should arise from the sale of this Selection of Psalms, they are devoted to the benefit of the National School, an institution, which I cannot too strongly recommend to attention and support; an institution established amongst us--not for the stranger and wayfaring man—not for the common, accidental claimants of our charity—but for the children of our neighbours, the orphans of our fellow Parishioners. I sincerely wish, that this work may contribute to the due performance of an interesting portion of our Public Worship.
J. L. B.
1st February, 1822.